‘LEGO Masters’ star to be at Maker Madness event

Photo Courtesy of Brad Schenker/Achieve Foundation
Volunteers help students at last year’s Maker Madness event.

The Achieve Foundation’s annual Maker Madness event is set for April 27 with highlights including LEGO Master Corey Samuels doing activities with the kids.

“He was a contestant on season one of the FOX show ‘LEGO Masters,’” said Brad Schenker, who is the committee chair of the event.

The Achieve Foundation created Maker Madness as a way to promote access to experience-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math) education for all students at all grade levels. The foundation promotes high-quality education that prepares South Orange-Maplewood School District students for the future.

Maker Madness is a popular family-friendly fair featuring more than 25 free hands-on activities and learning experiences for kids of all ages.

“The purpose has always been to bring the community together, to participate with hands-on activities, give the kids an opportunity to be exposed to creative, collaborative, thinking, get their hands on robots and engineering concepts,” Schenker said.

The free event is held at Columbia High School at 17 Parker Ave., taking place in and around the campus, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The bubble machine, which has proven to be very popular at previous Maker days, will be back this year. There will be a tear down station where kids are able to take electronics apart and see what’s inside. There will also be a “junk sculpture” where kids can take those pieces and help build something new with them.

Students from Columbia High School club’s including the robotics club and the astronomy club are expected to be at the event teaching kids about water rockets and sundials.

“Makers are people who make things with their hands, anything from woodworking, to puzzle creation,” Schenker said. “We are working towards exposing kids to understanding career opportunities in these fields.”

Maplewoodshop, which provides hand tool woodworking programs for kids at schools, camps, maker spaces, and scouts, is expected to be at the event.

When kids arrive at the event, they can get a “passport,” which gets stamped at each station they visit, making them eligible for prizes including STEM kits and other giveaways.

In the past, a lot of the activities were geared towards elementary and middle school students but they are looking to involve more high schoolers.

“We’re trying to put a lot more emphasis on career readiness and workforce development,” he said. “To expand on our mission, bring and expand STEM opportunities and expose the communities to careers that are out there but also let the community know about things that are happening.”

Last year, about 800 kids and adults attended the event but this year as many as a thousand are expected to attend. About 80 volunteers helped out and the organization is always looking for more volunteers to participate.

Organizers are also looking for professionals or companies in STEM related fields who might want to participate. Anyone interested, can contact Schenker at bschenker@achievefoundation.org or call the Achieve office at 973-762-5600, ext 1851.